Diabetes and Stroke: What Are the Connections?

Ofri Mosenzon, Alice Y.Y. Cheng, Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Simona Sacco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Stroke is a major cause of death and long-term disability worldwide. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications, including stroke. People with diabetes have a 1.5–2 times higher risk of stroke compared with people without diabetes, with risk increasing with diabetes duration. These risks may also differ according to sex, with a greater risk observed among women versus men. Several mechanisms associated with diabetes lead to stroke, including large artery atherosclerosis, cerebral small vessel disease, and cardiac embolism. Hyperglycemia confers increased risk for worse outcomes in people presenting with acute ischemic stroke, compared with people with normal glycemia. Moreover, people with diabetes may have poorer post-stroke outcomes and higher risk of stroke recurrence than those without diabetes. Appropriate management of diabetes and other vascular risk factors may improve stroke outcomes and reduce the risk for recurrent stroke. Secondary stroke prevention guidelines recommend screening for diabetes following a stroke. The diabetes medications pioglitazone and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists have demonstrated protection against stroke in randomized controlled trials; this protective effect is believed to be independent of glycemic control. Neurologists are often involved in the management of modifiable risk factors for stroke (including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and atrial fibrillation), but less often in the direct management of diabetes. This review provides an overview of the relationships between diabetes and stroke, including epidemiology, pathophysiology, post-stroke outcomes, and treatments for people with stroke and diabetes. This should aid neurologists in diabetes-related decision-making when treating people with acute or recurrent stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Stroke
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Outcome assessment
  • Risk
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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